Thief! Thief! Thief!

SO some Oxford professor feels thieves and fraudsters should be spared jail, does he?

What a load of limp twaddle and all the more worrying as the post he holds at this country’s top university is…….in English Law!

If he’s an expert in this field then what must the also-rans be like?

Unfortunately I have many memories of the damage that a thief can cause, some of the incidents actually involving me.

In many of them the wounds they cause are not through the loss of some television, cash, bike, car, or credit cards. It is the effective “dirtying” of personal space and belongings.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a £15,000 saloon or a £15 rucksack. Memories of it will never be as comfortable again even if you get the item back.

It has been sullied, the damage being even greater if the item has personal importance for the victim.

Just from me personally, thieves have stolen my cash, my camera, my backpack and my pen while one incredible incident on the tube in London saw me alerted by people on my down escalator after some scumbag on the up escalator stole half a bottle of water from a side pocket of my backpack.

The value involved was just a few pence, but the crime marred what up to then and had been a really good day out.

Now if Professor Ashworth ever gets his way then many thieves could be spared jail for “pure property offences” and given the equivalent of a slapped wrist and a stiff talking to.

Fortunately the good professor may have to wait a long while for this to happen because the Government came out and did the most incredible thing. It produced a reaction I was 100 percent in agreement with!

There was no political shilly-shallying and no threats to form a sub-committee next year to look into Ashworth’s comments. It was just “BANG”…we reject this.

What’s more, Justice Minister Damian Green said it would send the wrong signal to criminals, victims and the public and he is absolutely right.

Never mind the professor believes that the focus should be thieves making amends and compensating victims.

We have insurance of our own to get compensation and I’m sure the sort of amends most members of the public have in mind for a thief facing prison is not to hand him a Get Out Of Jail Free card but to make sure he gets a taste of something a little less to his liking than other people’s belongings.

One incident from some years ago springs to mind when I disturbed two people breaking into our neighbours’ home.

They were away up north at the time, so when we heard noises from their property we knew it could only be thieves and not a relative making sure all was well while they away because what relative would do that while the house was in complete darkness?

So I went out the back, heard scuffling by a hedge and promptly challenged whoever it was to show themselves.

Of course they didn’t, but they did run away down the garden when I began to shine a big torch about. Then there was a big crashing sound. What a pity the burglar missed seeing the low gate at the bottom!

Unfortunately my gate was high and bolted so, by the time I unbolted it, the burglar was long gone.

What I didn’t know was that a second burglar had quietly hopped over my neighbour’s other hedge and had been laying low while his partner in crime legged it. He then made good his escape, but the real cost was still waiting to be found.

The two of them had been so intent on getting at my neighbour’s new computer equipment that they had forced a hopper window right back on its hinges, climbed through and had virtually forced open a second interior door when they were disturbed.

The police had been called before I went outside, so they banged out some notes while I banged in some six inch nails to secure the window.

All these years later I can still remember most of the incident quite clearly, not the happiest of memories and I wasn’t the victim.

So, my vote is firmly against sparing thieves where prison is the usual offence.

As for the misguided professor? Well he gets sentenced to: “D Minus. See me after class.”



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